Wednesday, June 11, 2008


How Can We Give Anything to G-d?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

We have a real problem. Once we realize how wonderful G-d is to us, after all, He gives us our very lives, and He gives us our families, and He gives us our health, and all of our material things, then on top of all this He gave us His wonderful Torah to guide us in the direction He wants us to go, well, once we see how wonderful He is to us, we really want to give Him something. Just to show our love for Him.

After we begin to do the mitzvahs as they are intended to be done, and we have such great joy from them, we deeply feel the desire to give something to G-d. We want to give Him a special gift. And this is where the problem comes in.

How can we possibly give anything to G-d? What is there to give Him? If we say that we will offer a sacrifice to Him, like a cow or something, well, there are two problems with this idea. Not only are the sacrifices nonexistent today, since we do not have a Temple, but even if it was standing, those cows that we would be offering up already belong to Him. So, all we would be doing would be giving Him something that He had already given to us. It was His cow in the first place.

In fact, when we stop and think about it, He owns everything. The Torah tells us that the earth and all that is in it is His. It even says that the earth is merely “His footstool.”[i] So what is there to give to Him?

What about giving Him the present of giving a poor person some charity? It is well known that He loves the mitzvah of charity. So, we will find a poor person and give him some money. Here, we are giving something that is ours. After all, it is our money that we would be giving away, Isn’t it? No, not really, because we know very well that He is the one who allowed us to earn that money in the first place. It came to us as a result of His blessing.

Okay. Let’s do a mitzvah for Him. That will do it, right? No, that won’t work either, because as we just said, He gave us the mitzvahs. So, what can we give to Him that He has not given to us? There must be something that we can give to Him.

Ah, I know what, I will do teshuvah. I will repent and give Him my repentance. Ha! This must be something that we can give to Him, because it says that everything in the world is in His hand except for the fear of Heaven.[ii] So this is something that we can give to Him. But wait a minute, we already did teshuvah, or else we would not be trying so hard to give Him something. That’s how we got this far.

What can we do? The more we think about it, the more we really want to give Him a beautiful gift. Ah! I got it. There is only one thing in the entire world that we can give Him that is not already His. If we will go out and find a Jew who has lost his way and lovingly bring him to Torah and mitzvahs, this is something we can give to G-d.

We will help this Jew to learn the great and wondrous awe of Heaven. He will start to do the mitzvahs with great joy. His life will take on real meaning. Awe of Heaven is something that G-d has left for us to choose if we want. It is not something that He has already given to us and we are merely giving it back to Him, like a cow. He never gave us the fear of Heaven. Had He given us this fear, we would not have free will. When you have the fear of G-d upon you, you would never sin. For there to be free will, there must be the possibility of wanton sin. So for us, awe of G-d is just an option that we can choose if we want. It is entirely up to us whether we search for this or not.

What a great opportunity this is. We can go out and find Jews who do not yet know the joy of Torah, and lead them to teshuvah. This way, we will be giving their repentance to G-d.

It turns out that this is the only thing in the entire world that He does not already control. And it is something that we can give to Him.

[i] Isaiah 66:1
[ii] Gemora Beachos 33b

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vincent said...

It is precisely because I like this piece so much that I wonder what it is a non-Jewish person can ever do to really give something to G'd. Would you care answering this question please, if at all possible? By the way, with all due respect - ofcourse, as always - but is this knowledge from one Holy Sefer or the next or ' just' some nice thoughts of yours?
Just genuinely curious.

joshwaxman said...

Pirkei Avot 3:8 echoes this thought:
"Rabbi Elazar of Bartosa said, give Him from His own, for you and your possessions are His. And so does the verse say regarding King David, 'For everything is from You, and from Your hands we have given to You.'"

yet of course, the pasuk and the mishna consider it giving to God. Si one may give to God, even though it ultimately comes from Him anyway.

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